The other evening, we were wonderfully interrupted in our seminar by a flock of canada geese who had just taken off from the lake. Flying level with our top storey window, it was truly breath-taking to see them glide by in a natural V formation, with the lead goose honking the way forward.
Flying in V formation has two distinct advantages. The first advantage is one of energy conservation. Each bird flies slightly higher than the one in front, making full use of the reduction in wind resistance. The second advantage is that in V formation, all geese can keep an eye on each other. When the lead goose gets tired, they fall back in line and another goose naturally takes over.
With a continual eye to look for explanations of human behavioural patterns in nature, what really struck me beyond the magnificent aeronautical abilities of the geese, was their profound sense of community. Another thought occurred as they disappeared from view – that we humans have gone so far away from our natural states of being, that we have lost all sense of the true essence of the word.
Human communities consist of groups of people, and groups show predictable traits, many of which are not good. Shelving individual identity for group identity is a common pattern. What one would never dream of doing on their own volition, they easily carry out in the anonymity and social pressures of a group. Then there is the all too predictable rise in arrogance, in the belief that one’s own group is better than anyone elses.
Whilst many groups often do start off with good intent, by virtue of the fact of human projection, it isn’t long before the spiral of good intent inverts and the shadows of homework undone reveal themselves. What could be a fruitful community, a safe haven and place for equal support and protection, becomes clouded by the loss of natural geese wisdom. Should a subordinate fly higher, use less energy and threaten to overtake the leader, they will undoubtedly suffer the furious repercussions – where feathers and not birds will fly.
In the western world, where autonomy has filtered out our sense of communion by unnatural selection, it’s no wonder so many people are feeling alone, outcast, abandoned by their own communities. Surely we need to find our way back to the beginning. Where we held hands without fear of judgement. Where we held minds without concern for invasion. Where we shared hearts without any notion of difference.
As I write this article, in the distance, right on cue, I can hear the faint honking through the material fog of a canada goose. Perhaps as a reminder that it is still possible to fly in the mind whilst in human form; that belonging is really a sense of feeling deeply connected by a familiar thread of kinship, not especially to a group but to our natural selves. And that should we forget, we only need to watch a community of canada geese take off in the evening sun, to remember that we belong.